Tide survives

Published 12:00 am Sunday, September 16, 2007

The Selma Times-Journal

TUSCALOOSA &045; Big plays came in bunches for the Alabama football team Saturday, but none bigger than the last.

Matt Caddell sealed a 41-38 win on a 3-yard touchdown catch with 8 seconds on the clock.

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The touchdown was the final gasp in a roller coaster game that Arkansas (1-1, 0-1 Southeastern Conference) climbed back into after being dominated in the first half.

Down by four with 2:13 left to play, Alabama (3-0, 2-0) took the ball on its own 27 and was immediately on the move. John Parker Wilson completed four consecutive passes to begin the drive &045; the first three to Caddell &045; setting the team up at the Arkansas 40.

A pass interference called on cornerback Kevin Woods in the end zone put Alabama on the 13 with 33 seconds left. Two plays later, Alabama had its first signature win under Nick Saban.

Arkansas running back Darren McFadden led all rushers with 195 yards and two touchdowns, and teammate Felix Jones had 96 yards.

Both teams had exactly 450 yards of total offense, but they got it in totally opposite ways.

Arkansas racked up 301 yards on the ground, and Alabama had 327 passing yards on a 25-of-42 night from Wilson.

An electric first half made it seem inevitable the Tide would run away with a win.

Alabama’s first score of the game came off a turnover. Linebacker Darren Mustin caught a tipped ball and returned it three yards to the Arkansas 9.

Two plays later, Wilson hit Hall’s back shoulder with a line drive as he crossed the front left corner of the end zone.

Glen Coffee was barely touched on Alabama’s second score of the night, racing across the goal line for a 14-yard touchdown. Terry Grant set the score up with a 39-yard run that put the Tide on the 15-yard line.

The Wilson-to-Hall connection worked one more time in the first quarter when the pair hooked up for a 35-yard pass play up the right sideline for a score. That gave Alabama a 21-0 lead with 1:27 left.

Hall had 172 receiving yards on six catches and became the all-time receiving leader at Alabama with 2,206 career yards.

Arkansas finally got on the board when Casey Dick hit Crosby Tuck for a 41-yard touchdown with 6:03 to play in the first half.

Alex Tejada kicked a 22-yard field goal that made it a 21-10 game with 23 seconds left in the half.

Leigh Tiffin’s 24-yard field goal more than four minutes into the third quarter extended Alabama’s lead to 24-10.

Gilbert Arenas returned a 58-yard punt that set up a 2-yard touchdown pass to tight end Nick Walker. That put the Tide ahead 31-10 with 5:15 left in the third quarter.

Then things got interesting. Three unanswered touchdowns stemming from a pair of turnovers put Arkansas back in the game.

Dick rolled out on a play-action pass and found tight end Andrew Davie open in the end zone with 3:05 left in the third.

A fumble gave Arkansas the ball back at the Alabama 42, and the Razorbacks turned that into points when McFadden pushed into the end zone from 1 yard out.

McFadden lined up in the shotgun at quarterback and took a dive play into the end zone from the 5. That tied the score at 31 with 12:05 left.

Arkansas took the lead with 8:08 to go in the game. A Dick pass went through the hands of Mustin and found Peyton Hillis for a 4-yard touchdown.

Alabama milked 12 plays out of a three minute, 48 second drive that ended with a 42-yard Tiffin field goal and trailed 38-34 with 4:20 left.